autonomy

early on, billy joel streaming through our old honda odyssey.
my dad and I humming along on the way to kindergarten;
my mom wouldn’t let joel in the house — said he was overplayed.
the whole minute-long drive was summer, highland falls, and angry young man.

later, 99.5 was the order of the day
or 94.7 or 107.3, whichever one my sister felt like.
sitting in the backseat, all the controls were too far to reach.
a time pre-bluetooth and a world less designed for ourselves: the tone of the day set by a random radio dj’s particular whim.

then, fingers smudging the residual condensation on the windows, gazing at the endless greenery blending with suburban scenery,
in an ever-changing, ever-static landscape.
a dissociative state in which time and space faded behind notes and lyrics

eventually, your first clumsy drive,
clammy fingers gripping the steering wheel and jerking the gears; not quite sure how a steering wheel works.
right is right and left is left and simple as that? not quite, you learn.

that time before you knew what the anti-frost was,
frantically swiping at the moisture accumulating on the windshield
the whole forty-five minute drive home populated with a subtle panic; the hand smudges visible the next few weeks.

music floating through the car, your out-of tune voice its accompaniment, blinding sunlight pouring over the dashboard — almost burning your face, notes filling the empty space around you, for once not occupied by people, a singular time, one with no silent specter of authority.

the smooth operation of sliding into the car, pushing down on the brakes, the engine coming to life,
a syncrasy of countless drowsy morning drives and late night rushes
of hitting the brakes fast and adrenaline pumping to your heart
of long gazes at the road unfurling before you.
i still play billy joel sometimes.

Post written by AnneMarie Caballero

Wayfarers

When I’m leaving
I’ll think about
The people I didn’t touch
By not talking too much
Or just by not being a crutch
When needed
The people who I wanted
So badly
For our hearts to be near
But the love was never seeded
When I set sailed on my journey
I left those people at the pier
And I never took a second look
back to see
The people swimming after me

But right now
I’m thinking of
The ones I took and will
take along the way
I hope they have my love
And when I’m gone
I hope it remains there still
And the people who have different
destinations
I hope it’s there to this day
And that they pass it, carry it on
to whatever locations
they may be
We’ll meet again; you’ll see

Post written by Thomas Tran

Change

We are the people who adjust to new life.
We are the world that loves reform.
We are aware of the true picture,
Observe beyond the small things.
See the generosity and love.
Crush the enmity a thousand times.
We leave hate behind.
We shun our old ideas,
And we always move forward.
We the people now
Adapt.
But have we really
Advanced?
We the people consistently have
Been stuck in the same pattern,
Approved our old ways.
We have joined hands with hate
Even when we attempt to crush it a thousand times.
Blinded by greed and envy,
We have a narrow outlook on life.
Neglectful of the things that matter,
The world struggled to change.
We the people have not
Advanced,
But we are always
Evolving.
We the people are changing.
The world grows with speed,
People caring about others’ needs.
We are looking over the wall
And building a bridge together.

Post written by Katharine Burgess

incongruence

every day, it seems as if the ground shifts under my own self-perception:
I gain new entries to the endless encyclopedia of memories and fears and observations.
but it demands a title change, a fundamental recognition of transformation.
yet, the events, the plot, your recognition of my change languish in their similarity.
sometimes it feels as if I’m an adult to myself and a child to the world.
I’ve become markedly different, but every change is invariably internal:
I carry few of the society’s determined milestones for growth.
my perspective is in constant flux, my life relatively stagnant.

there’s this moment when you’re talking about something,
and you step back to realize it’s completely unknown to your actual experience.
there’s the secondhand life we live in literature, music, and all the other entertainment we care to create,
but the actual presence of the moment,
in all its transience and fragility, is still a mystery.
you can’t capture falling in love and rewind it on a television set.
we may believe we’ve created life by proxy,
but the substance of life, the sense of significance we feel ever so often
is entirely uncapturable.

so, while I realize my own encounters with the world have been so limited,
with vast swathes of the human experience I have never trod,
I still see my own personal terrain changing shape day by day.
I’ve become a sort of narcissistic professional — well trained to understand myself.

yet, one fear/hope/idea lingers with me:
when we venture out to connect with some small part of world,
when we become an adult in the eyes of all,
do you lose yourself?
by which, do you lose the self-concept your isolation from the greater experiences of life allowed you to create?
can we only truly know ourselves when we are not forced to change? to adapt? to experience?
is stagnancy necessary for understanding?

Post written by AnneMarie Caballero

Six Forty Six

“Text the keyword WIN to 200200 for your chance to-”
A sigh, click, sudden silence
Squinting into bright sunlight filtering through tinted glass
Fingers drum along a perfect arc of leather
Dozens tensely perched
Lions stalking prey, waiting for the perfect moment to strike
All eyes are trained intensely on a single fixture
Then
The cold light brings them to life
Beasts spring to life with a dull roar
Barreling towards their destination
Momentum of a great behemoth
But lacking the primordial grace
Rubber veins pump fumes, not ichor
Another dull sigh, a slow grinding halt
The next light turns red and the radio flicks back on.
“-double pay work day! Again, text WIN to”

Post written by Sean Gibbons

Life’s Song

Blurry faces stand around, their voices
fading in and out, all listening to her pulse.
The one thing she can hear is her heartbeat,
Drowning everything else, it encompasses her,
Producing a clear, overwhelming rhythm,
and the rhythm was calm – nature’s way of composing.

But it was not always calm.
Like all great composers before
The tempo changed in pace creating
An ever flowing and beautiful melody.
She lay numb recalling those moments.

Dancing in her backyard, her father arrives home.
Running to him she feels a surge of happiness, then her heartbeat slowed,
She was safe in his arms.
Then running home alone in the dark, heart beating so fast
as she looks over her shoulder. The one thing keeping her alive,
warning her of dangers. Scared for her life she runs on.
Her pace stays steady then
She meets the man she is going to marry,
Her heartbeat so strong it seems to be
Screaming this is what you’ve been searching for!
But he dies, and life loses excitement
Her heart beats slow and soft, just enough so she knows
That even though it’s broken, her life will carry on.
Life moves slower now; her rhythm hasn’t changed for years.

 

“Funny”, she thinks “Life is supposed to flash before my eyes,
but I am listening to a song”
A song she knew had reached its climax,
A song with many ups and downs
A song where she felt the fullest in love,
And yet the farthest from it.
Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.
Her song has ended.

Post written by Olivia Hays

Tribute

Tough and weathered from too many nights out in the cold
You always let out a low groan each morning before finally getting up
I loved you all the same
Despite others called you worthless and past your prime, old
Skin like grey leather, enduring endless torment merely to survive
I loved you all the same
Inconstant airflow, laborious breaths, as if each moment was agony
A constant dull rumble, reminder that you were still alive
I loved you all the same
Even before our first official meeting, you lurk in my memory
Short spine, cracked heels, cloudy eyes
I loved you all the same
Decades ended, twisted metal meant your demise
I will never forget you
1995 Ford Explorer

Post written by Sean Gibbons